09/03/2016 1:30PM

Gettysburg goes from rabbit to contender in Smarty Jones Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Gettysburg, shown training in June, is winless in five starts since getting his maiden win.

It is hard to tell who will be favored in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones at Parx Racing on Monday, and it’s almost as tricky to find throw-outs in the 14-horse field of 3-year-olds. The $300,000 race is so deep that a horse who was used as a pacemaker in his most recent start has more than a fighting chance.

When last seen, Gettysburg was showing the way on the lead for Creator in the Belmont Stakes. He set an honest pace and held the lead after 1 1/4 miles but tired to finish eighth in the 13-horse lineup. But the rabbit accomplished his mission, as Creator got up to beat Destin by a nose.

Creator is owned by WinStar Farm and Bobby Flay. Gettysburg is owned by WinStar. Gettysburg was trained by Todd Pletcher prior to the Belmont but was transferred to Steve Asmussen before that race. He will make his second start for Asmussen in the 1 1/16-mile Smarty Jones, the local prep for the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 24.

While Gettysburg seemed out of his depth in the Belmont Stakes, he fits well in the Smarty Jones. Although he has not won in five starts since a maiden score at Gulfstream Park in January, his races during that span have been won by Tampa Bay Derby winner Destin, Lexington Stakes winner Collected, Travers fourth-place finisher Gift Box, and Creator, who also defeated him in the Arkansas Derby.

Since the Belmont, Gettysburg has been freshened at WinStar Farm and considered for starts in the West Virginia Derby and Travers, according to Elliott Walden, the president of WinStar Farm.

“He’s a legitimate racehorse,” Walden said. “He can stand on his own. Even in the Belmont, which is probably a little too far for him, he was right there at the top of the stretch.”

According to Walden, if Gettysburg performs well Monday, “he’ll come back in the Pennsylvania Derby.”

Key Contenders

Gettysburg, by Pioneerof the Nile
Last 3 Beyers: 89-87-87

◗ Corey Lanerie will be in from Kentucky to ride Gettysburg, a $425,000 Keeneland yearling purchase.

Sticksstatelydude, by First Dude
Last 3 Beyers: 103-78-78

◗ Trainer Greg Burchell ships him in from Kentucky. The 103 Beyer Speed Figure he earned in winning a Belmont allowance in July is by far tops in this field. Joel Rosario gives up closing day at Saratoga to stay aboard.

Awesome Slew, by Awesome Again
Last 3 Beyers: 53-91-85

◗ A longshot, trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. has always thought highly of him and said he did not handle the sloppy track in the Haskell Invitational last out. He will have to overcome post 14, but if the track is dry, expect a good effort at a price.

Voluntario, by Hold Me Back
Last 3 Beyers: 90-86-92

◗ Fourth in the Grade 3 Dwyer last out for Rudy Rodriguez, his runner-up effort to American Freedom in the restricted Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico in May points out his ability.

Wild About Deb, by Eskendereya
Last 3 Beyers: 79-93-92

◗ Races for Ramon Preciado after previously being trained by Phil D’Amato.

◗ Didn’t run well in the Ohio Derby but was third to Unified in the Grade 2 Peter Pan in his prior start.

◗ Tiago Pereira, who rode him out West, will be in from California for the mount.

Name Changer, by Uncle Mo
Last 3 Beyers: 86-86-82

◗ Finished third of 10 last out in the West Virginia Derby for Alan Goldberg. He won a Parx allowance by 11 lengths in his prior start.

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